Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelhamite Beth Lane premieres documentary on family’s escape during Holocaust

The seven Weber siblings evaded capture after the death of their mother in Auschwitz, following their father’s wish for them to “stay together no matter what happens.” With the help of two farmers, now memorialized in the Gardens of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, they were able to board a ship from the Port of Bremerhaven to New York and escape certain death.

“I have always known about this story,” said Pelham resident Beth Lane. “I am the daughter of the youngest sibling of the seven children who survived the Holocaust and emigrated from Germany to America.”

“UnBroken,” a documentary film on the family’s escape created by Lane, made its East Coast debut at the DOC NYC screenings on Nov. 12 and 13.

In her youth, Lane would ask her mother questions about her journey from Germany to America, but as memories began to fade, Lane knew that she needed to preserve her family’s story. She finally met her uncle and aunts at a family reunion in 1996 and was able to take inspiration from her uncle’s 40-page document, “The Brief History of the Weber Siblings.” In 2015, a trip was planned to visit Germany but was canceled due to her uncle’s death.

When he died, in addition to the terrible loss of losing someone you love, there was also the loss of the stories and the opportunity to see his experience through his eyes,” said Lane.

Later on in 2017, Lane’s mother agreed to a trip to Germany.

“They invited the grandson of the farmers who hid my mom and her siblings to meet us,” described Lane. “Just meeting one of their descendants was really a groundbreaking experience. A lightbulb went off in my head and that was the moment I committed to make the movie.”

The next six years of Beth Lane’s life became dedicated to creating the film “UnBroken.” In the middle of getting her master’s degree in theater, Lane was able to take multiple semesters of documentary and film production classes to prepare for this undertaking.

“Doing archival research is part of why making this kind of movie takes six years,” said Lane.

Many documents had already been uncovered by Lane’s uncle in his own research, but a team of research interns and professional archivists from around the world, some featured in the documentary, were able to curate the collection of documents necessary. Filming in both Jerusalem and multiple cities and towns in Germany, along with extensive interviews with her family gained Lane over 200 hours of footage.

“I found Berlin to be a very welcoming and hospitable city. It’s crazy to think that it could have been so backward and upside down when my mother fled as a refugee.”

Lane was able to build a film titled “Would You Hide Me?” with the help of multiple editors, production managers, consultants, and designers such as Aaron Soffin, Angus Wall of MakeMake Entertainment, and Andy Hall, the head of the graphics company Elastic.

However, in 2022 the film was not accepted into any film festivals. Lane and her team were able to reopen the edit and decided to retitle the film “UnBroken,” which had its premiere at the Heartland International Film Festival on Oct. 8, winning the Best Documentary Feature Premiere Award, and was later shown at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California on Oct. 13.

“Our film is a character-driven story that happens to be told through the lens of the Holocaust and it happens to be told through seven extraordinary siblings,” said Lane. “Our film is unique in that way. It’s evergreen. It speaks to every generation. It speaks to any kind of cinephile and embraces you and carries you along.”

Raising three children in Pelham made it difficult for Lane to stay in contact with her extended family spread all across the country due to their circumstances upon arrival in America. She did not know of her aunts’ and uncles’ existence until age six.

There’s no question that making the film ‘UnBroken’ has brought me so much closer to each and every one of them in specific and individual ways,” said Lane. “This film has been a labor of love.”

Beth Lane established the Weber Family Arts Foundation in March, with “UnBroken” serving as the Foundation’s first project. Lane has stated that any profit or proceeds from the film will go towards the Foundation to provide seed money to another artist who wants to tell a story in service of combating antisemitism, bigotry and hate through the arts.

The antisemitism that is prevalent in the world today is frightening,” she said. “I want people to walk away trying to remember their own humanity and understanding what their responsibilities are as a human. It is a privilege to be a human being. Even in 2023, we have so many resources and beauty at our fingertips. How are we going to employ them to make the world a better place?”

View Comments (2)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Lark Martin, Deputy Executive Editor
Lark is a sophomore at Pelham Memorial High School. Previously, she was an A & E editor on the Colonial Times. Lark also loves field hockey, horseback riding, mac and cheese and playing piano and French horn.

Comments (2)

The Pelham Examiner intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Commenters must provide their FIRST NAME and their LAST NAME. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Pelham Examiner does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments. We will check to see if it works and may also request a street address if an email looks to be spam.
All Pelham Examiner Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • L

    Louise MiddletonNov 15, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Kudos to you Beth!! Can’t wait to see it!!

  • M

    Megan GarufiNov 15, 2023 at 10:38 am

    Congratulations, Beth. I would be so interested to see this. What do we have to do to get this at the Picture House?